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Studio Job’s functional sculpture at ArtZuid Amsterdam asks you to 'Bring Yourself'
Bronze Sculpture, Bring Yourself, by Studio Job showcased at ArtZuid Amsterdam
Image: Courtesy of Studio Job

Studio Job’s functional sculpture at ArtZuid Amsterdam asks you to 'Bring Yourself'

Job Smeets has crafted a polished bronze sofa in memory of late Dutch designer Jan des Bouvrie at the ongoing sculpture biennale in Amsterdam.

by STIRpad
Published on : May 29, 2023

"Everybody can sit and be, but they have to bring themselves.”

- Job Smeets

Belgium-born and Netherlands-based artist and designer, Job Smeets, recognised for his extremely visual, gigantic and absurdist sculptures and artworks, has crafted a piece of furniture as a tribute to the late Dutch designer, Jan des Bouvrie. The sofa, named Je Neemt Jezelf Mee (Bring Yourself), is being exhibited at the ongoing sculpture biennale, ArtZuid in Amsterdam, alongside exceptional installations by prominent artists like David Hockney, Panamarenko, Erwin Worm, and Julian Schnabel.

Dutch architect, interior and product designer, Bouvrie was often referred to as ‘the grandmaster of white interiors’ who introduced minimalist, white spaces to prevailing wooden interiors in the Netherlands’ landscape. After his passing in 2020, when Bouvrie was 78, a foundation was established by a group of his closest friends to honour his legacy. Artist and designer Job Smeets of multi-disciplinary atelier Studio Job was entrusted with the task of creating a memorial for Jan at Studio Job in the Netherlands. The functional bronze sculpture created by Smeets has been inspired by Bouvrie's philosophy that one always carries oneself wherever one goes. The idea, as per Studio Job, was to capture the ‘absence of Jan’ through a sculptural representation. The work demonstrates an oversized rendition of the late designer’s iconic Cubic sofa, accompanied by his cherished ashtray, cigar box, and sketchbook, which were left behind as symbols of remembrance.

“Jan was a totally different guy. He was a TV personality, he loved to talk, he knew everybody, he collected art and design, he was everywhere at the opening parties, he was an amazing marketer and a good talker and a presence, he had that character. So, if I learned anything from him (out of many things), one of those things is, of course, presentation - how you ‘Bring Yourself’. He influenced a whole generation. Dutch people started to paint their walls white because of Jan des Bouvrie. I was working on Saturdays in a shop called the Bijenkorf (a department store in Eindhoven) and I would sell Jan des Bouvrie furniture when I was a student at The Design Academy, he was already in his high times in the early 90s. He was everywhere, even doing McDonald’s TV commercials, he was super famous,” Job Smeets tells STIR.

Studio Job is an ingenious art and design studio with operations in The Netherlands and Belgium, renowned globally as a frontrunner in contemporary art and sculpture. Working in the realm of modern conceptual and sculptural art and design, the studio critical oeuvre embodies a Renaissance spirit that harmoniously merges traditional and contemporary techniques to create truly unique and unparalleled objects. Job Smeets' work epitomises the convergence of technique, science, design, and art, exemplifying what is known as Gesamtkunstwerk—a comprehensive artwork or an all-encompassing artistic form. In a contemporary interpretation of the applied arts from the Renaissance era, the artist skilfully employs humour as a vehicle to address unwieldy subjects like capitalism, taste, and the legacies of art and design.

“Jan passed away in 2020, in the middle of Covid, so there was not a lot of attention to his passing, although he was such a prominent figure in Holland, everyone knows Jan des Bouvrie. Then it seemed the least I could do was pick that up and create a memorial for him, an almost duty. I also do it for myself, if I die soon I’d want someone to do that for me,” Smeets continue. “Guys like Jan are immortal, they are a part of the creative Dutch history and that’s something to be proud of. And it feels like my duty to commemorate that, and he was a friend. He promoted Studio Job a lot, so it was easy to make a piece for him, it went by itself. The idea was there quite quickly, but the execution was quite difficult because you have to do a perfect execution if you want to come up with that idea.” The sculpture serves as a memorial to Jan des Bouvrie's heritage and his contributions to the design world. "Everybody can sit and be, but they have to bring themselves,” adds the artist who previously appeared on STIR exclusive video conversation series titled UNSCRIPTED.

During ArtZuid 2023, the vibrant essence of Neo-pop Art extends its influence, captivating a younger audience with its use of vivid colours, aesthetics, and forms inspired by popular culture and the media. The sculpture is showcased at the eighth edition of ArtZuid, the sculpture biennale in Amsterdam that opened to the public on May 19, 2023. The event draws approximately 400,000 attendees annually.

The Netherlands. By actively participating in the exhibition's mission, the works aim to reveal a fresh gathering space where art intertwines with the streets, fostering open access for all individuals. Their objective is to contribute to the Amsterdam community, fostering connections between neighbourhoods through art, cultural heritage, and educational initiatives, especially for the youth.

You can experience Smeets’ installation Bring Yourself at the ArtZuid sculpture biennale in Amsterdam till September 24, 2023.

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